Planet Proctor 2005 Volume 16

“Can any plausible excuse be furnished for the crime of creating the human race?” ~ Mark Twain’s written notes in Darwin’s “Voyage of the HMS Beagle”  


        Oh my God, where to start? Well, first of, we're back from an amazing European adventure. I left in a flurry of work and return to a blizzard of biz so I'm just now feel like I'm returning to the Planet.  "Worker Speaking.  Hello." (Pictures will be eventually posted on my private site.)

        Before we left for Amsterdam where we spent a week in a hotel/apartment overlooking the Amstel River (it was Amstel's dam, originally) I got a call to play the Reverend Bob Patterson, hosting an "Inner Beauty Pageant" at a Church and State Fair on "Arrested Development" -- thanks to my longtime pal, director Lev Spiro, whose talented writer/wife, Melissa Rosenberg, was just elected to the national board of the Writers Guild West. ("Writer/wife", that's good.  Now I know I'm back in Hollywood.)

        Lev recently told me that our episode turned out marvelously. "Actually the two other producers watched it and told Mitch Hurwitz it was the funniest episode of the season (so far) and he hired me back before he'd even seen my cut.  Now that's funny."

        That's wonderful. And almost as good as Bruce Dessau's Evening Standard review of Firesign's performance for BBC4 at the London Comedy Store…

   "If you turn the country on its side, everything loose winds up in Southern California." ~ Frank Lloyd Wright


        It is hard to categorize American comedy legends Firesign Theatre. Mark Thomas, the host of last night's Radio 4 recording, introduced   them as "The MC5 of comedy". But while this California-based, cult quartet certainly also emerged out of America's counter-culture 40 years ago, they have never seemed as angry as those militant rockers. Particularly now that Firesign resemble avuncular college professors.

        A closer description would be America's answer to Monty Python. Like Python there is a childlike creative lunacy at play whenever Peter Bergman, David Ossman, Phil Proctor and Phil Austin convene. And as with Python the spirit of The Goons frequently pokes its head above the parapet. Unhinged Mr. Liverface, selling "dead dog cat food" and  "dead cat dog food" is pure Spike Milligan.

        Phil Austin chose not to fly over, but the remaining trio conjured up rapid-fire word-pictures, immaculately spoofing everything from Shakespeare (jazzily rebranded "Billy The Shakes"), to soaps to unctuous programme sponsors: "Brought to you by Ma Rainey's wholesome moleskin cookies, a whole mole in every bite."

        The musician Firesign most evoke is Frank Zappa. They are unpredictable, clever and too willfully oddball to crack the mainstream. This rare one-off was a fascinating glimpse into a parallel comedy universe. Top marks to the Beeb for bringing them over. In fact, top marks to the Beeb for even having heard of them. To be broadcast on Radio 4 on December 14. [And you can hear us on the Internet]

           "Are you going to come quietly, or do I have to use earplugs?"~ Spike Milligan


Jack: So .... [pause]

Jack: So he won then. [pause]

Jill: Yes.

Jack: Yes. [longer pause]

Jack: He waited long enough.

Jill: Yes.

Jack: Yes ... he did. [pause]

Jill: Yes, he certainly waited long enough.

Jack: Words. [pause]

Jill: What?

Jack: Words, in conversion, he was good at that. [pause]

Jill: Yes ... he waited long enough.

Jack: I think... [pause]

Jill: ...and pauses, he was good at that too.

Jack: Yes.

Jill: Yes. [pause]

Jack: Yes. [pause] I think his word/time ratio was the smallest ever heard.

Jill: Yes.

Jack: Yes. [pause]

Jill: Yes, he waited long enough...

Jack: Well done, that's what they say...

Jill: Yes, they do say that...

Jack: Well done, like the toast... [long pause]... How's your cornflakes,

then? (From John Grady, Wokingham, Berks, UK)

                "Life is either a glorious adventure or nothing." ~ Helen Keller


        Before we left, there was a major power outage that affected the Hollywood area, where I, because of work, happened to be. Planeteers need to know how traumatic it really was with no electricity for 26 minutes. "This is our Tsunami," wrote Joshua Gates, Actor, Photographer, and Victim, for the L.A. Times:

        "Horror and disbelief swept through the greater Hollywood area this afternoon as a minor power-outage turned the city into a virtual war zone and local residents struggled to deal with the devastating aftermath.

        The outage struck at 1:35 PM, during L.A.'s busy afternoon coffee and Pilates rush hour.  Traffic lights fell dark, local gyms and sushi restaurants were without power for nearly 30 minutes and many businesses were illuminated only by the light of the sun and its blistering 78-degree heat.  

        "It was horrible," said out of work actor and voice-over artist Rick Shea,  "I was in a Jamba Juice on Melrose when it hit and the blenders simply shut down…"  

        "My mother is 83 years old and we heard on the radio that [her local] Starbucks was going to be up and running.  If she doesn't get a Venti Arabian Mocha Sanani, I don't know what's going to happen to her, I really don't." said Lucinda Merino of Los Feliz.

        To make matters worse, those few people who did manage to get coffee were further thwarted by a total lack of artificial sweeteners on site. "Sugar in the Raw? Are you frigging kidding me?" sobbed avid salsa dancer, Enrique Santoro. "I'm on the South Beach Diet and my insulin levels are going to go crazy if I use this. Why isn't the rest of the country doing something?"

        At least 2,000 refugees, a majority of them beautiful, will travel in a bus convoy to Beverly Hills starting this evening and will be sheltered at the 8-year-old Spago on North Canon where soft omelettes with confit bacon and Hudson Valley foie gras was being airlifted in by The National Guard…

        Along miles of coastline, the power simply surged, causing writers to lose upwards of a page of original screenplay material, causing Direct TV service to work only intermittently and forcing local residents to walk outside and look helplessly at the Pacific from their ocean view decks.   

        "I can hardly begin to put this experience into words," said longtime Two and a Half Men writer John Edlestein.  "I was just getting into my rhythm and making some real headway on a scene where Charlie Sheen parties with a busload of female volleyball players when my PowerBook crapped out.  I have nothing. Simply, nothing."

          "If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?" ~ Phil's Phunny Phacts


        Dear Electric Customer: Just a little note to let you know we understand your anger in the recent price hike. But it should be noted that you have no choice. We are a big company and you will pay what we tell you. We have the power, you need the power. So sad, too bad. Sucks to be you. Have a nice day and keep those checks coming, loser! Sincerely, Your Local Power Co

 "It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible; the sane are usually attracted by other things than power. ~  David Brin

"The responsibility of ministers for the public safety is absolute, and requires no mandate. It is in fact the prime object for which governments come into existence." ~ Winston Churchill


        The White House announced today that President Bus has successfully sold the state of Louisiana back to the French at more than double its original selling price of $11,250,000.

        "This is a bold step forward for America," said Bush. "And America will be stronger and better as a result. I stand here today in unity with French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, who was so kind to accept my offer of Louisiana in exchange for 25 million dollars cash.

        The state, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, will cost hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild. "Jack understands full well that this one's a fixer-upper," said Bush…

        The move has been met with incredulity from the beleaguered residents of Louisiana. "Shuba-pie!" said New Orleans resident Willy Babineaux. "Frafer-perly yum kom drabby sham!"

        However, President Bush's decision has been widely lauded… This is indeed a smart move," commented Fox News analyst Brit Hume. "Not only have we stopped the flooding in our own budget, we've made money on the deal. Plus, when the French are done fixing it up, we can easily invade and take it back again."

"Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple." - Barry Switzer


        Did you hear about the guy in Paris who almost got away with stealing several paintings from the Louvre? After planning the crime and getting in and out past security, he was captured only two blocks away when his minivan ran out of gas.

        When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied: "Monsieur, I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh."

        Steven Allen Green, who was at our show in London adds, "And you thought I lacked De Gaulle to send you a story like this!?"


        You know, one of the worst things about going on a trip is that when you return, you open a lot of email that reveals of the loss of dear friends.  But that is the nature of our planet.  

        The day we performed, Ronnie Barker, a beloved British comic left our dimension. And many more…  

        Would you believe, Don Adams, whom we worked with on the Firesign Theatre HBO special, "The Madhouse of Dr. Fear"?  And dear Louis "Hi -Ho Steverino" Nye; and SNL veteran and artist Charles Rocket, who took his own life back in Connecticut?

        And the worst shock of all - Hamilton "Bob" Camp, folk singer, comic, character actor and voice-over artist extraordinaire. We first met on "The Smurfs" although he was also active at that time on "The Committee."

        Hammy died of a heart trauma not dissimilar to that which took John Ritter's life.  I saw him right before our recent trip and we laughed and laughed and as always discussed politics, life and the ways of spirit.  He was a font of goodness and will be sorely missed.  Four sons, two daughters and thirteen grandchildren survive him.  For a little guy, he left a lot behind. I still cannot believe he's gone.  Paul Willson is arranging a memorial.

        I also lost a very close friend from Scroll and Key, my Yale senior society -- Steff Graae, a senior D.C. Superior Court judge who, ordered the District's public housing agency into receivership in the 1990s.  Steff also died of heart disease while awaiting a transplant.  He had a wicked sense of humor and honor.

        I'll write more of his career in a future orbit.  "Pocula elevate!"

    "Life isn't measured by the breaths we take but by the moments that take our breaths away." ~ Phil's Phunny Phacts


        There's very simple answer to how we came to have an oil shortage here in our country. Nobody bothered to check the oil. We just didn't know we were getting low. The reason for that is purely geographical. Our oil is located in Alaska, California, Coastal Florida, Coastal Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas but our dipsticks are located in Washington DC.  (Attribution unknown)


        Melinda and I are honored to have been nominated along with the casts of "Pera Palas" and "Mother Courage" for the Best Ensemble Ovation Awards.  The Antaeus Company has garnered an unprecedented 7 nominations and we'll all be at the Orpheum Theatre downtown on November 14th to see who wins.

        In the meantime, we're preparing for our 4th Annual Fall Fundraiser to launch a capital campaign for a permanent home, which will take place this year at the Santa Monica residence of Emmy-Award winning actress Blythe Danner.  Please come (and see me sing) as we preview our next presentation, "American Tales" by Jan Powell and Ken Stone, or just make a contribution. Information is available at

"Maybe people in Washington just don't watch television, or maybe they just don't like television, or maybe they just don't believe the news that they haven't created." ~ Tulis McCall


        The world premiere of the Antaeus-developed production of "A Tale of Charles Dickens" (featured at last year's Fall Festivity) where 16 actors portray more than 130 characters in 1830s London will take place at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Drive in Los Angeles from October 26-28. It is being produced for Radio by L.A. Theatre Works for later broadcast on PBS and XM Satellite Radio. Visit

   "Eternal pain and damnation await those who question the unconditional love of God." ~ Bill Hicks (1961-1994)

"Honk if you love peace and quiet" ~ From Jamie Alcroft


        JW Reynolds, Lennie Weinrib, Michael Dare, Glen Banks and Greg Benson whose latest short film "Coming Home" is one of the top 5 finalists out of 297 entries at the Amazon/Tribeca Film Festival -- to view them and vote for your favorite, go to:

     "The best thing about a nuclear holocaust would be that service at Kinko's would not be greatly affected."  ~ Rumination by Lev Spiro


 West Side Story: a horror film.

SNL: every single SNL Jeopardy sketch.



"Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?" ~ Jay Leno

© 2005 by Phil Proctor
Published OCTOBER 20, 2005